PN 19/19 Customer service report shows familiar faces at the top and bottom for the water sector


18 September 2019

Ofwat has today published a report on customer satisfaction with Portsmouth Water and Anglian Water coming out as top performers, following strong results the year before too.

The bottom performers are Thames Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy, and with Thames taking last place consistently over four years, it will have to return £100m to customers under Ofwat’s proposals.

The research published today combines scores on customer satisfaction for handling issues and the number of complaints each company received. The combined figures provide a score out of 100, showing the best water company receiving a score of 90, and worst performers receiving a score of 75 for the year 2018-19.

For the second year running, Anglian Water tops the table, followed by Portsmouth Water, who had the highest proportion of customers who felt their query was resolved. This year’s results also showed improved scores from Dŵr Cymru, with Southern Water maintaining the improvement they showed last year. Even though Southern Water remains a poor performer, they’ve increased their score by 7 points since 2015. Southern are clearly making progress and the changes they are implementing are being felt by customers as the number of written complaints they receive has reduced by 27%.

Each water company’s overall score since 2015 results in either a financial payment or penalty. Ofwat consulted on the range of payments as part of its 2019 price review draft determinations, in July 2019. Including the scores published today, those proposals mean Anglian Water would receive an extra £16m in its price review settlement, while Thames Water’s would be reduced by £100 million.

David Black, Senior Director at Ofwat, said:

“We expect companies to put customers at the heart of their business. Those like Thames which achieve persistently low scores need to give this area of their performance more focus.  Until they do so they will continue to face penalties and pressure to pay more attention to understanding and meeting their customer needs.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see the top performers doing even better than last year, we are disappointed to see a drop in the overall average industry score, with the worst performers failing to show improvement.

“We expect companies to benchmark themselves against other sectors and to meet the changing expectations that customers have, including by offering more personalised and digital services. That is why from 2020, we are switching to a new measure (‘C-MeX’) of customer service, which will set an even higher bar.”


Notes to editors

  1. Service incentive mechanism 2018-19
  2. Service incentive mechanism 2017-18
  3. Ofwat’s service incentive mechanism (SIM) is calculated annually. It is made up of two components – the number of complaints companies receive (collected and published by the Consumer Council for Water) and customers’ satisfaction with their company’s handling of queries and resolving issues (from a series of independent surveys commissioned by Ofwat).
  4. Water companies’ SIM scores since 2015 contribute towards financial payments and penalties. Ofwat consulted on the calculation of these payments and penalties in its price review draft determinations published in July 2019. It is currently considering the representations it has received and will make its final decision in December 2019 as part of its price review final determinations.
  5. This is the final year that Ofwat will use the SIM scoring system for customer service. From 2020 it is switching to a new measure (‘C-MeX’). Customers’ expectations are set by their experiences across the board and. Ofwat will be comparing customers’ satisfaction with their water company to their satisfaction with other services.

This press release was re-issued later in the day on the 18 September 2019, to remove Wessex Water in the first sentence and in the fifth paragraph, the Anglian Water figure was corrected to £16m.